Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

Your Brain on Narcissistic Abuse: Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, I know how hard it can be to believe you could have been abused by someone you thought loved you.

It’s not just that they were charming, seductive, and desirable.

It’s also that they seemed to care about you. You may have even felt loved – at least on some level.

Did you know that your brain betrays you in narcissistic relationships?

It’s true! Your brain and body seem to be conspiring against your conscious self when it comes to narcissistic abuse.

See, you know that what you’re dealing with is abuse, on a logical level. You know it doesn’t feel good to be with a narcissist.

And yet, some part of you secretly hates both the narcissist and yourself because you haven’t left or are missing them.

You start to think that, despite all of the evidence to the contrary in your personal experiences, not to mention your reading and research, the narcissist MIGHT really change for the next source of narcissistic supply. 

And obviously, some part of you is well-aware that this abuse is wrong and that you should end the relationship, or at least be happy it ended. 

But for some reason, you can’t stop thinking about the narcissist. You’re second-guessing yourself, feeling remorse and regret combined with self-doubt that ending is or was the right thing to do.

The more you miss them, the worse you want to see them – and the more you’re sure that you were overreacting and that you weren’t really abused at all. 

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and you develop abuse amnesia – forgetting what the narcissist has done to you and beginning to believe that things really can get better this time. 

What are the long-term effects of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? 

It’s hard to imagine that everything you thought was true about your relationship might have been a lie, and yet this is the very reality you might be dealing with if you’ve just recognized the narcissistic abuse in your life.

This is just one of many ways that narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship can lead you to find yourself dealing with serious cognitive dissonance.

And don’t worry – you’re not alone here – in fact, you’re in good company. The effects of narcissistic abuse are all-encompassing – and something like this happens to nearly every narcissistic abuse survivor somewhere along the way.

If you’re one of us, you might also be living with a form of post-traumatic stress disorder that significantly affects your everyday reality.

One of the most painful things that we deal with as survivors of narcissistic abuse is the complete destruction of our self-esteem and our ability to trust ourselves, thanks to the control, gaslighting, and manipulation that narcissists inflict on the people closest to them.

Perhaps most distressing is the fact that narcissistic abuse can cause neurological issues – also known as brain damage.

On the plus side, the neurological changes caused by this long-term trauma can be reversed, thanks to our brain’s neuroplasticity.\

What is neuroplasticity?

How do you reprogram your brain after narcissistic abuse?

As you probably know, our minds, more specifically our subconscious minds, control our lives.

In other words, we are what we think or believe.

Research has shown that there is a mind-body connection and that the mind can help us overcome health problems.

As I mentioned, one of the most important things to remember is that your brain is neuroplastic – this is what makes it possible for us to actually help to reverse and heal ourselves. 

This video gives you an idea of how neuroplasticity works and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is cognitive dissonance?

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort (disagreeing cognitions) we experience when we encounter information that contradicts our existing set of beliefs or knowledge.

In other words, when we experience cognitive dissonance, we feel anxious because part of us wants to reject new information because it is threatening to our established beliefs – but another part of us knows that the new information may be true and is demanding that we accept it as such.

This internal tension can cause stress and anxiety – especially if we are unaware of its source. This video offers a comprehensive look at cognitive dissonance in narcissistic abuse recovery. 

 

How can you deal with triggers and feeling dissociated during narcissistic abuse recovery?

Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one. And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience. Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.

Try This Reality Anchoring Technique

Reality anchoring is one of the most powerful NLP Anchoring Techniques you can use during your day-to-day life – anywhere and at any time. 

Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of reality anchoring using different methods to evaluate it, and all of them have come up with similar results in terms of the effectiveness of the reality anchoring technique to reduce negative emotions, increase positive ones and enhance perceived well-being. 

This video offers a helpful reality anchoring technique for when you feel cognitive dissonance coming on. 

How does reality anchoring work?

A reality anchor is a mechanism that allows you to connect your current situation with an unrelated but positive place in the past.

In other words, you may want to consider looking toward the future while making an emotional connection to some positive experiences from the past.

Doing so can increase your sense of well-being and happiness. It can also decrease any amount of sadness and increase your ability to cope.

This can be achieved by creating a trigger that links one part of your body with a pleasant memory.

For example, you may believe that smelling fresh flowers will reassure you that you were happy on a particular day in the past.

The reality anchor technique is used to encourage a person to be able to adjust their current emotions by finding the source of those emotions in an event in the past or future.

 

Why should you care if you’re trauma-bonded with the narcissist?

Understanding trauma bonding is vital to understanding why it’s often so difficult to leave a narcissist, as well as why you can be triggered by seemingly innocuous things if you were previously involved with one.

And the good news is that knowing more about it can help you better cope with your experience.

Take the information below and use it to better understand your trauma bond and how to get past it.

 

How does trauma bonding from narcissistic abuse actively affect your brain and state of mind?

The chemicals oxytocin, which encourages bonding, endogenous opioids – responsible for pleasure, pain, withdrawal, and dependence; a corticotropin-releasing factor which involves withdrawal, and stress; and dopamine which is connected to the craving, seeking, wanting the narcissist back, even when they’ve caused you extreme emotional stress and pain.

Toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse lead your neurochemistry to fall into dysregulated states, which makes it really hard to leave a narcissist and even harder to finally get over a toxic relationship.

Take Dr. Daniel Amen’s free Brain Health Assessment to discover your Brain Type and your Brain Fit Score!

How can you re-wire your brain after narcissistic abuse?

Your brain is neuroplastic, meaning it can change and heal in some pretty amazing ways. When you’re dealing with the type of brain damage that is caused by narcissistic abuse, you can sort of re-wire your brain yourself.

(Of course, you should always check with your medical professional to ensure there’s not some other underlying reason for brain fog or being forgetful.)

Speaking of brain fog, let’s define it. 

What is brain fog? 

Brain Fog is the feeling of dissociation or disconnectedness often experienced during and after narcissistic abuse.

It’s a very common symptom of narcissistic abuse-induced C-PTSD.

Most survivors report feeling lost like they’re not really there, or like they’re sort of watching life happen through a screen or a bubble.

Use Mindfulness to Beat Brain Fog!

Mindfulness is a powerful way to beat brain fog. Learn to live mindfully by practicing the following.

  1. There is no wrong way to do this – just do it and know that everyone has wandering thoughts.
  2. Begin your mindfulness practice by focusing on your breath, it will help ground you for the session.
  3. Some people find it useful to use a mantra to focus on – that is a word or phrase that you say aloud and/or chant. It can be ‘Om’, something like ‘Peace’ ‘Love’ ‘Calm’ or anything you want.
  4. You can use an audio or video of guided meditation if that helps you stay focused.
  5. When you find your mind wandering, and you will, simply return to observing your breath for a minute or so to get back into your practice. You might say aloud ‘thinking’ to label what occurred (your mind wandering to other things) without judging it as bad or good.
  6. Observe – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations – this is the objective of mindfulness (though Buddhists would say there is no goal).
  7. Release – any thoughts, feelings, or sensations without judgment – this is critical to get the benefits of mindfulness.
  8. Label – your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, even the errant ones that occur when the mind wanders; this can be helpful in the ‘observing and letting go’ process.
  9. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
  10. There are active forms of mindfulness for those who can benefit from something more involved, ie. mindful movement and mindful walking.

Begin by setting aside 5 minutes to practice mindfulness the first week, then increase it to 10 minutes and continue to increase your time every week or so until you are practicing 20 minutes. If you can’t manage 20 minutes, do what works for you. Even 5 minutes each day (or twice a day) will help you.

Supplements That May Help With Your Healing

Did you know that there are certain supplements designed to help with healing your brain?

Did you also know they can be taken while your brain is still in recovery from trauma bonding in narcissistic abuse?

Are you wondering what supplements actually do this and if the claims are true?

I’ve compiled a list of supplements that have helped me and others I have coached in recovery.

It is based on personal experience, what I have read, and what other people have told me.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my aim is to help you find some useful information about healing your brain in recovery.

*Please note, I am not a medical professional and nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice. Do not take any supplements without first discussing with your doctor and getting their approval.

  • Calm My Brain: Quell your worried mind with this highly effective formula for the relief of anxiousness, featuring the ultimate calming mineral magnesium, the powerful stress-busting herb KSM-66® ashwagandha, and the fast-acting amino acid L-theanine.*
  • Attention Support: Trouble concentrating? Can’t sit still? Attention Support contains natural ingredients selected for their clinically proven benefits to help you relax, stay calm, and increase your attention span.
  • Betaine TMG: Provides the nutrient betaine (trimethylglycine, TMG), which enhances SAMe for healthy mood; provides crucial methyl for DNA, brain neurotransmitters, melatonin, and myelin production; and helps cells regulate their water content.
  • Brain & Body Power: The easiest way to get your daily mind and body essentials – parceled into convenient packets including a brain optimizing multi-vitamin-mineral, and pure omega-3 fish oil capsules.
  • Brain & Body Power Max: The most advanced memory-directed formula – perfectly portioned into convenient daily packets including a multi-vitamin-mineral, maximum memory-boosting nutrients, and omega-3 fish oil for complete daily nutrition.
  • Brain & Memory Power Boost: Our most advanced, best-selling memory formula with a lineup of powerful nutrients clinically proven to help protect circulation in your brain, boost mental connectivity, sharpness, and sustained focus.
  • Brain Boost On-The-Go: Fight brain fatigue and tackle your day with the zero-calorie, caffeine-free, and sugar-free, effervescent berry blend that’s perfect anytime, anywhere. Quick natural energy and hydration to help promote mental clarity. Simply add to water and enjoy.
  • Craving Control: Anyone who has ever tried to make better choices knows all too well how cravings can sabotage the best intentions. Craving Control contains all-natural ingredients that help to calm the craving centers in our brain, balance blood sugar and promotes a positive mood.
  • NeuroLink: Feeling irritable or sad for no reason? NeuroLink helps to balance our emotional ups and downs by delivering an exclusive blend of key nutrients to neurotransmitters in our brain helping us to feel tranquil and clear.
  • BrainMD’s GABA Calming Support: Calm your mind naturally with GABA Calming Support, an exclusive formula that contains clinically studied nutrients that help to calm your brain waves and help act as the biochemical “brakes” your brain needs to slow down your anxious or fretful thoughts.
  • Serotonin Mood Support: Does your mind race with negative thoughts? Try our customer favorite Serotonin Mood Support, which contains a patented form of saffron along with other key nutrients that help to promote calmness, positive mood, serotonin balance, and even healthy weight management.
  • SAMe Mood and Movement 400: SAMe Mood & Movement 400 provides SAMe (S-AdenosylMethionine), a nutrient with very high energy that helps power numerous enzymes important for the brain, joints, liver, muscles, and other organs. SAMe is fundamental to the body’s renewal, repair, and overall well-being.

Going Forward in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Being in a relationship with a narcissistic abuser causes survivors to experience a form of trauma and shock. For this reason, trauma therapy is helpful because it acknowledges that healing is a process and that there is more than one way to move forward.

Trauma therapy is often focused on the past but will also guide you toward future goals and dreams while teaching you how to deal with various triggers.

Awareness of cognitive dissonance, trauma bonding & emotional flashbacks can be instrumental in understanding what your inner experience of the relationship was so you can work through it & begin letting go. Find a therapist here. 

You might also want to try narcissistic abuse recovery coaching, or if you’re looking for more of a small group setting with a lower price point, try our small group coaching plan – there are significant benefits to this and the price is significantly less than one-on-one coaching. 

Takeaway

You are not to blame for your traumatic relationship with a narcissist. By understanding what happened to you and having the right support on your healing journey, you can go on to live a happy and meaningful life.

After overcoming narcissistic abuse, you may find yourself feeling like a whole new person. If you have found yourself in that stage, take comfort knowing you’re not alone.

It is a journey that is as exhilarating as it is exhausting, but the end result is well worth all the effort.

You can recover. You just have to take your time, and you have to trust the process.

Give yourself permission to rebuild your life from the ground up. It’s going to be a long and difficult road, but it will be worth it in the end.

Get Help With Your Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Cognitive Dissonance, Trauma Bonding & Healing in Recovery – Here’s the link for your free tools.

The Letter Exercise by Angie Atkinson

The Letter Exercise by Angie Atkinson

Are you trapped in limbo land between two difficult things: ending your toxic relationship with a high-conflict, abusive narcissist and moving on with your life? If you could just get rid of those feelings about the narcissist, you’d be done. But you find yourself stuck. Why?

You’re reading this because you want to get over your past relationship, right? But not only that, you want to move on in a way that feels right for you. Because the truth is, how you move on is as individual as who you are. It’s about honoring your own needs, desires, and goals (even if they change) during this process. 

Do you feel stuck?

Are you feeling stuck in a mental loop of negative self-doubt and criticisms? Maybe you can’t stop crying about the narcissist, or you can’t accept that you’ve split? Or, you can’t stop wishing you’d have just kept your mouth shut, or that you had any freaking idea what, if anything, would have stopped the narcissist from leaving you, or for doing whatever they did that made you leave them. In any case, you can’t seem to get past it.

Are you ruminating or overthinking? 

Could rumination and/or overthinking be the cause of your angst? Rumination is when the thoughts keep repeating themselves, over and over again – haunting your every waking moment with their incessant whispers. You find yourself orbiting around the same planet of repeated self-talk (I’m no good, I’m boring, I don’t matter). This can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you’ve been trying to break free from your narcissistic abuser for a while.

Are toxic people in your life making you feel this way? 

Narcissists and other toxic people have a way of really making it hard to let go of them. They do this consciously or otherwise with a process called intermittent reinforcement. Over the course of your toxic relationship, you will have become nearly addicted to the narcissist due to this intermittent reinforcement. Closure can be a powerful emotional healing tool that helps to restore our mind and body after being involved with narcissists.

In my work, I use a powerful tool I sort of accidentally created more than 25 years ago to get past these painful feelings. The letter is very specific and crafted to bring any needed closure. One powerful way you can get closure is to write the narcissist a special kind of letter. 

The Letter Exercise: A Powerful Way to Create Your Own Closure

This exercise actually came to me personally in a very strange way. At the age of 20, I found myself ruminating about a painful experience I’d had with a person with whom I’d been involved. While I was, in so many ways, finding peace and happiness after ending that relationship, I could NOT stop thinking about this person and feeling angry about what he had done to me.

One morning, while I was having my coffee and again feeling all this anger, I threw my hands up and screamed at the ceiling, “What do I need to do to get this person out of my head?”

I realized at that moment that I had continued to allow him to control me, even though I was no longer in contact with him. And it was right about then that I thought I was going crazy – because, though I was alone in my apartment, I literally heard someone whisper in my ear. And I mean LITERALLY – audibly.

I was FURIOUS at this mysterious voice and knew for sure it didn’t come out of my own head because it said something absolutely ridiculous – it said, “you have to forgive him!”

Well, after calming myself down and getting my head together, I sat down with a pen and a notebook, and I started writing a letter that would not only help me to create my own closure, but one that would change my life forever in some surprising ways – and I inadvertently created an exercise I have used with my clients over the years.

Step-by-Step Guide to Use the Letter Exercise to Help You Get Un-Stuck After Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ll take a look at this video, I’ll walk you through the process myself.

How to Do the Letter Exercise

Create Your Own Closure After Narcissistic Abuse

Here’s how you can let go of your anger and disconnect yourself from the narcissist’s emotional hold on you. Try writing the narcissist a “special” kind of letter. An important step in overcoming this type of pain is to “give voice” to the hurt you feel. In this particular case, you need to give voice to your anger about how the narcissist treated you by literally writing him or her a letter, using the format below.

What You’ll Need

What You Do

Be sure to have your pen, pencil, or markers and some paper or stationary on hand before you begin. Tip: If you struggle with writing by hand due to some physical issue, then you can type it out on your computer or phone – but if at all possible, I suggest you write with a pen or pencil as it seems to have some additional therapeutic value here.

You’re going to write a letter to the narcissist who abused you. In the letter, you’re going to write down every single thought, worry, and doubt that keeps you feeling miserable and stuck.

  • Make sure to take your time so you can say ALL the things you wish you had said to them but never did. 
  • Add in the things you needed the narcissist to hear, whether you tried to tell them and they wouldn’t listen.
  • Be sure to take your time, and if you need to, write a little bit at a time, put it up, and then come back to it when you’re ready or when you have time.
  • Put all of your anger, frustration, sadness, disappointment, and any other feelings you have about the narcissist and the way they treated you in the relationship in the letter.
  • You can say all the curse words you want or need to say, and you can scribble all over the paper if you want to – just put all of your feelings into the letter. No thought or feeling is too small to include – think “brain dump” or “soul-cleansing” – so make sure you include any and everything that comes to mind, no matter how petty or unimportant it seems in the moment.

Pause, Steep, Edit

When you’re finished writing, let it sit overnight or for a couple of days. Then, pick up the letter again, and read through it. Add anything you’d like to add, and if you want to, you can rewrite and edit the letter.

The Final Paragraph

This is when you’ll add the final paragraph in the letter, and you’ll want to make it something like this:

And now, though you do not deserve it, I am forgiving you (or releasing you, if forgiveness feels too painful right now), not because you deserve it, but because I no longer want your toxic, negative energy in my space. I trust that you’ll get exactly what you deserve from here on out and I release the need to know what happens for you next. Goodbye, forever. 

Your Final Steps to Emotional Freedom

At this point, you have two choices. You can mail the letter, or not. Personally, I did not need to mail the letter and would not necessarily recommend that you do – because, in reality, the letter is for you, not the narcissist. It’s all about getting the negativity out of your head and out of your life, and it’s an ideal way to start to create your own closure.

I suggest you burn or shred the letter and get it out of your life – and as you do, you imagine the negative energy and anger and all of the other emotions burning away – or being shredded up. Some people like to float their letter down the river or to clip it to a balloon and let it fly away.

Do whatever feels best to you. Heck, you could even just throw it in the trash. But whatever you do, once the letter is written, get it out of your life.

Takeaway

This simple exercise provided me with SO much relief, and many of my clients report the same thing. Have you tried this? Will you give it a shot now? Let me know in the comments section, below this video.

There is additional information on why you feel stuck and how to overcome it in this video.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Did you know? Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Making a New Year’s Resolution That Sticks

Making a New Year’s Resolution That Sticks

“Why do New Years Resolutions fail? Mainly, because they are only a statement, or what we wish for in the coming year. There are usually no action plans, no deadlines, no backup plans. Sometimes they are unrealistic resolutions, with no other thought or plans beside the statement.” ~Catherine Pulsifer

Nearly half of all Americans make at least one New Year’s resolution every year, yet statistics show that in most cases, three out of four of them will fail at manifesting their desires. And statistically speaking, resolutions most often revolve around four categories, including weight, money, self-improvement, education and relationships. But only 1 in 4 succeed.

So, why the low success rate? Are we just doomed to fail? What can we do to ensure that our New Year’s Resolutions stick this year?

Maybe that’s because, a lot of times, we make resolutions based on what other people want or what we feel society wants from us. That is, we make the resolutions we think we SHOULD, instead of making resolutions that are in line with our true divine desires.

Remember that movie, Dirty Dancing? And how Nobody Puts Baby In a Corner?

(I know this is a kind of silly example, but just go with me on this for a second, okay?)

Let’s say you are the young daughter of a doctor in the 1960’s. Your family goes on a summer-long vacay, and though your father hopes you’ll spend your free time with the dorky son of the resort owner, your heart wants the dangerous and oh-so-sexy bad boy staff dance instructor. (And really, who can blame you?) You try in earnest to do as your father wishes and like the big nerd, but you can’t seem to stay away from that big hottie and his swerving hips.

It’s the same deal with New Year’s resolutions–no matter how much you think you can change your true divine desires based on someone else’s will, the fact is that you will inevitably turn back toward your own. As the old saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants. And, statistics show, you’re most likely to fall back into old patterns within the first few weeks (days in some cases) of making your resolution.

The obvious solution to the “should” scenario is to figure out what you really want and make your resolutions based on your own desires. Doing anything else is just futile. You’ll just end up frustrated as you experience a significant blow to your self-esteem.

If you choose to make New Year’s resolutions this year, be sure they’re based around your own wants and needs, not those of the people or society around you.

But there’s more. You need a plan if you’re going to succeed.

Instead of fleshing out the hows and the whys of their New Year’s resolutions, many people just blindly resolve to make change. New Year’s Day comes along and they have a goal, but no plans or ideas on how they can accomplish it.

So, for example, let’s say that Joe Blow resolves to lose 50 pounds. New Year’s Day comes along and Joe has no clue how he plans to make his goal a reality. He has taken no inspired action to prepare for his new lifestyle–so he shrugs his shoulders and grabs his customary breakfast of donuts and Mountain Dew, figuring he’ll try again tomorrow. Of course, tomorrow never comes, because Joe never had a plan.

If you want to succeed in manifesting your desires, you must take inspired action. So, in Joe Blow’s case, he could have done his research, found a jogging partner, and restocked his kitchen with healthy foods. Any step toward achieving your ultimate goal can be just the trigger you need to finally succeed–and the more you physically and mentally prepare yourself, the more likely you are to make that goal a reality.

What many people don’t recognize is that planning and taking inspired action towards one’s ultimate goals can actually help to enact the law of attraction in their favor. That’s because as you work toward achieving your goal, you’ll naturally visualize and imagine yourself achieving the goal. This helps you to get on the right vibrational level to attract and manifest your desires. Good stuff, if you ask me.

What do you think? Will you set resolutions this year that are in line with your true divine desires? Will you take inspired action to make them stick?

6 Ways A Narcissist Manipulates

6 Ways A Narcissist Manipulates

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is confusing and can completely change the way you feel, think or believe things about yourself for a reason. They are constantly manipulating!  There are many forms of abuse and manipulation in the narcissists repertoire of toxic behavior, the following video gives a brief description of 6 of these. Understanding the ways you are being manipulated can help you to see the situation for what it is and  the narcissist for who they are. If breaking trauma bonds is the goal,  understanding and acceptance that the abuse is real is one thing needed to help you get there. What are some ways you feel you have been manipulated by a narcissist?

Check out other videos for more information on any of the 6 ways a narcissist manipulates at Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com offers free video coaching each week on YouTube on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays along with videos and help on recovery from toxic relationships. Featuring certified life coach Lise Colucci and supported by QueenBeeing founder and certified life coach Angie Atkinson. 

If you are looking for an affordable way to get ongoing personalized support as well as peer support and validation in a small group setting join our private coaching group https://lifemakeoveracademy.teachable…

Get one-on-one coaching with Lise Colucci at https://queenbeeing.com/lise-colucci-…

Get notified free for free video coaching sessions by texting LISELIVE to 33222. Find Lise on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lise.colucci…

Email Lise with topic ideas or any questions about the coaching options available  at [email protected]

 

Polyvagal Theory in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Polyvagal Theory in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

“We all come from dysfunctional families. The issue is not whether our family was dysfunctional but whether we can put meaning to the experience of our lives.” ~ Stephen Porges, author of the Polyvagal Theory

I had a narcissistic abuse recovery counseling client who was really struggling with deep childhood trauma combined with a psychopathic ex who had horribly abused her since she was a teen. Now that she was free, she was feeling anything BUT. In fact, she felt frozen in fear, nearly all the time.

Are you living in a constant state of fear? 

Can you relate to living in a constant state of fight or flight, or worse, freeze? That was this woman’s reality. She had tried traditional therapy and spent thousands of dollars on various doctors, practitioners, and even alternative medicine. Yet, she was still at a complete standstill in her recovery and she still felt fearful and miserable every day. I deeply felt for her, and I really wanted to help. So, I started digging to help her find a solution to overcome her C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms so she could heal.

That is what led me to Dr. Stephen Porges and his Polyvagal Theory. My client found significant relief, and I learned new ways to help people in narcissistic abuse recovery.

What is Polyvagal Theory?

According to Porges, “The polyvagal theory describes an autonomic nervous system that is influenced by the central nervous system, sensitive to afferent influences, characterized by an adaptive reactivity dependent on the phylogeny of the neural circuits, and interactive with source nuclei in the brainstem regulating the striated muscles of the face and head.” Read more about Polyvagal Theory in Porges’ 2009 paper, here. 

In this brief video, Dr. Stephen Porges explains offers an explanation of his Polyvagal Theory and how it works.

How can we use Polyvagal Theory and vagus nerve stimulation to help us heal from narcissistic abuse and trauma? 

Going through a toxic relationship often leaves victims feeling fearful to a debilitating level. For most of us, it affects our nervous system in profound ways. In some cases, survivors find themselves living in a constant state of anxiety based on the feeling that they need to be constantly on guard – hypervigilance. This makes it almost impossible for them to relax or even to feel “normal.” They feel FROZEN or STUCK.

Through the use of vagus nerve stimulation as described by Dr. Porges in Polyvagal Theory, many survivors find relief of their C-PTSD symptoms. Even better, these exercises can be done by almost anyone from the comfort of their own home – or anywhere they happen to be.

Self-Help Exercises for CPTSD Symptoms Based on Polyvagal Theory

In THIS VIDEO, I talk about a theory developed by Dr. Stephen Porges that could change the way we heal trauma, and once I’ve given you a brief overview of the theory, I’m going to share some self-help exercises that you can do at home to help you get through the hard times.

As I mentioned, one of my clients found herself stuck, afraid and feeling frozen, and she had tried everything but struggled to find relief. After discovering what I’m going to show you today, she began to find some relief. As I learned more about the theory, I shared some of its ideas with other clients in similar situations.

In the majority of these cases, they were able to find some relief all on their own by doing surprisingly simple at-home exercises. Several reported that they felt these simple exercises made a significant difference in their ability to feel safe enough to recover.

The Role of the Vagus Nerve in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Porges proposes in his polyvagal theory that the vagus nerve has more function than previously thought and that the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems are only part of the equation in how people react to the environment and trauma. Because the theory is very complicated, I’m only providing a very high-level overview and focus on the parts that will specifically help us as survivors. The Polyvagal Theory says that the parasympathetic nervous system is not only associated with relaxation but also symptoms of PTSD.

Porges developed the theory to help us understand this dual function of the parasympathetic nervous system. It points to a human survival mechanism in which the parasympathetic nervous system leads us to FREEZE or “faint” in the face of a life-threatening event. Most importantly, the polyvagal theory teaches you to engage your social nervous system to consciously slow down your defensive system.

This allows you to finally find freedom from CPTSD symptoms and to feel safe. In other words, Porges’s theory makes us look beyond the effects of fight or flight and put social relationships in the forefront so we can understand our symptoms better.

Additional Resources for Learning About Polyvagal Theory

Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support

Related Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Closure After Narcissistic Abuse

Closure After Narcissistic Abuse

Is there any way to find closure after narcissistic abuse?

It seems that so many survivors of narcissistic abuse really struggle with fully healing trauma bonds and moving on with life because of the lack of a sense of closure. In this video I talk about this as well as several ideas and tips for finding closure for yourself without the need to contact, reach to to or even include the abusive narcissist. Struggling to let go and move on so that you can thrive is something most of us face while understanding and healing from  toxic emotional abuse. You are not alone if you feel the need for closure but can’t seem to find it.

What is it you need so that you will have a sense of closure? Is it really necessary to find that closure? If a narcissist can’t take accountability, can that closure be had? Would breaking no contact help? Do you need to forgive? Why is it so hard to let go and move on in life? These and many other questions were asked and replied to in the following video. What questions do you have and how are you finding closure for yourself?

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com offers free video coaching each week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays along with videos and help on recovery from toxic relationships. Featuring certified life coach Lise Colucci and supported by QueenBeeing founder and certified life coach Angie Atkinson.

Lise Colucci is a certified life coach, as well as a certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach. She is a long-time admin and mentor for the SPAN Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Group, actively helping survivors of narcissistic abuse in the expansive community to learn and heal.  Lise is passionate about providing coaching services that help her clients feel heard and validated as she guides them along their healing journey. For information on coaching, group coaching or to contact Lise check out the links below.

Join our private coaching group https://lifemakeoveracademy.teachable…

Get one-on-one coaching with Lise Colucci at https://queenbeeing.com/lise-colucci-…

Get notified free for free video coaching sessions by texting LISELIVE to 33222. Find Lise on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lise.colucci… Email Lise at [email protected]

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